The proposal of the Quebec government to pass a new law that will be used to block internet service has stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest in Canada. Lawmakers are debating upon a new legislation that could, if passed, enable the government to prevent residents of Quebec from accessing certain websites that the government does not approve of. In a bid to garner support for the bill, the government has explained that it is needed to protect citizens from the negative impact of certain sites.
The new internet law will most likely be used to exercise control over which gambling sites residents of Quebec will be able to access. As a matter of fact, the government intends to protect the online businesses it runs by blocking access to privately run sites. While certain jurisdictions in Europe do have the same or similar laws, many people in Canada feel that the government id overreaching its mandate in this particular instance.
One of the reasons for the popularity of the internet, apart from the fast flow of information it offers, is that it offers the premise that there is practically no censorship of information on it. The concept of Net Neutrality is a very important one, although there have been many attempts to tamper with it. The term was coined by Prof. Tim Wu of Columbia University way back in 2003 and it requires all parties to give all data on the internet the same importance. In other words, there can be no space for restricting any type of data (official secrets as well as personal and financial data do not come under this) or changing varying fees based upon different factors.
Internet service providers are expected to follow net neutrality irrespective of the content, mode of communication or the platform used. The same applies to governments which have to respect the equality of all data passing through the internet. In other words, there is no space for government censorship on the internet, or even differential pricing based upon the content, user or even the equipment used to access the internet.
Many countries follow the principles of net neutrality in some form or the other and they have also put laws in place to ensure that they are followed. These laws vary from country to country but many of them contain a few provisions in various forms. These range from outlawing monopolistic practices such as blocking other service providers to the withholding of internet services for specific reasons. Companies providing internet services are also prevented from subsidizing internet use on web sites of their choice at the expense of others. All in all, net neutrality forms the workable basis for correct internet use in most parts of the world.
While most people will agree that the government should have the right to block websites that are criminal in nature, the majority consensus is that the government should not be bothering itself with telling people which gambling site to use as long as it is legal.